Opinion

Feature: Lessons the political parties should learn for 2024 (but probably won’t)

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Asiedu Nketia

Asiedu Nketia, the newly elected chair of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), poses an existential threat to the peace and harmony of this country. Going into 2024, we hear the NDC new chair threatening blood, fire and brimstone. Indeed, he and most others must be made to explain their divisive rhetoric at their recent conference that hypocritically flood the political environment. It is poisonous. It continues to infect our politics and set us against one another.

Asiedu Nketia hates democracy. Of course, the PNDC/NDC progressive socialist dream did not; do not favour democracy, at least not majoritarian democracy with free and fair elections. The stench emanating from the mountains of rotting corpses of past election violence is as a result of the vicious rhetoric they spawn.

For what would Asiedu Nketia share his blood? The delusion that the NDC, with the blood of a General Mosquito, can reform and redeem this country from the festering problems of insecurity, poverty, and lack of economic growth is a lie; it is counter- productive. We hope the criminal rhetoric was just to excite the NDC base.

It is easy to understand why there would be pent-up resentments among the NDC, especially in a country where rent taking has become the main pre-occupation of politicians. Asiedu Nketia and his NDC cohorts need the rents, and are desperate.

If there is one thing the 2020 elections revealed, the political elite have lost the goodwill and trust of the people. The vicious cycle of electoral violence and the corruption cannot be reversed in spite of whichever party is in power until leaders like Asiedu Nketia systemically set about creating and enhancing popular participation.

If there is no trust between the leadership and citizens, the number of roads built and hospitals constructed would amount to nothing. Gaining legitimacy is not a one-time event derived from a day of violent elections with blood flowing on the streets.

Since independence, our politicians have tried and succeeded to “fundamentally transform” a uniquely great nation like Ghana, into a pathetic redistributionist welfare state presided over by an all-powerful nanny government.

Ghanaians have been seduced into becoming less independent and less moral than they once were. The sad thing is while the poor are still rugged and resilient, they are becoming less logical and questioning, less principled and courageous.

With no incumbent president running, the 2024 elections are sure to be something in which parties and individual’s seeking power would do so wearing iron knuckles. The violence rhetoric and the violence exhibited in internal party elections, will certainly not win votes.

Elections have far more lasting, and far more serious — or even grim — consequences than emotional venting. The rising use of violent rhetoric to get political power therefore presents a very serious problem for our democracy.

The principle here can be summed up with the saying “good ideas do not require force.” Neither do we have to resort to abusive words against opponents. No party should have any problem persuading voters to make their decisions voluntarily. Indeed, resorting to violence in any form is effectively an admission that your ideas are not so compelling and that the only way to get people to vote for you it is to coerce them.

Asiedu Nketia is not the only obstacle to free and fair elections. The ultimate danger lies in all political parties and their so-called serial callers — and in the voting public themselves.In fact, our political parties have caused tremendous harm, not just to the nation’s constitutional system of government, its economy, security and culture – but to its national soul.

Politicians have wasted resources in settling partisan interests rather than restructuring the state, making developing inclusive and facilitating the market.

Hopefully, Ghanaians – some sooner, some later – will ultimately realise that not only are most of those craving for power not messiahs, they could be arguably the worst, most dishonest, incompetent, this country has ever seen.

Instead of promising blood and mayhem, we do hope power crazy politicians would stick to the kitchen table issues every Ghanaian cares about and talk about how they intend solving our myriad problems.

We have argued elsewhere that Ghanaian elections are boring and lifeless, with nothing but insults and false promises. Indeed, critics have raised major doubts whether the parties do have the right policies and message to stoke the electorate’s desire to vote for one party or the other.An election is not a freak show or popularity contest, or an award for muscles.

If you want to fulfil your duty as a citizens’ leader, then you need to come to the table with a vision and a mission, with good policies to win the votes. Otherwise, your quest for power, based on whims or emotions, is playing Russian roulette with the fate of this nation.

Leadership is vision. We need all the wisdom, courage and dedication in the next elections. The abusive language and violence that seem to dominate our elections is fundamentally, unsuited for our current state building agenda.

However, the most important lesson going forward to 2024 is one the major parties might likely ignore: give the people a new dynamic vision and change the way you communicate with the base.

Instead of promising fire and brimstone, political leaders must demonstrate that they can forge a new direction, maintain cooperative relationships and create opportunities in the economy.

Sadly, over the years, political parties have become graceless, voracious war machines, and out of touch; parties now do not understand how the people live their lives and how bad economic policies are making the vast majority poor.

Arresting and reversing our bad economy is not an agenda for serial callers and ill-equipped persons with no idea about communicating beyond a radio station and a WhatsApp page.

Some people would say it is heresy to say that publicly, but it is also true. We have nothing against serial callers and the many ‘money for saying something’ hackers who strut the field calling themselves journalists and communicators.

In fact, these serial-callers simply annoy many of the population with their economics free, fact-strained, and too often, empty talking points that pass for serious discussion of issues. The parties and their communicators forget about the public.

They are becoming more tyrannical, with an unmistakable contempt for critics, dismissing all critics as bigoted, crazy and dangerous. Somehow, they forget they have to talk to the public, and that includes critics.

Refusing to talk or simply aggressively dismissing critics out of hand, would not win you votes of people you do not already have, and lose you votes from the base.

We do not have to forget that in politics, message is everything.  A political party can only win convincingly if it changes its communication strategy. Members should strive to build and communicate a party that is rooted in the lives of real people, and every community in the country. The political culture must become less inward looking, more open

Political parties have to stand for something, they have to want to change society, or undo something. Whatever it is, you have to tell voters what your party stands for, why your candidate is running and what the agenda is. So many of the failed 2022 candidates seemed to think that being on a party’s ticket is enough.

Citizens’flourishing, which requires active participation and self-reliant individuals, suffers by false promises. Lies such as ‘the government exists to serve citizens every wish’alienates voters. To cast well-informed votes, the voters would want to hear about visionary alternatives instead of the usual increasingly dysfunctional budget process driven by political drama and parliamentary brinksmanship.

We can only win if we change.The present crop of political actors and their serial callers should stop acting like predatory agents preying on the people.

To save this country we must think past one election, and beware of the same double-speak and evil rhetoric that continues to destroy this country.

Asiedu Nketia, and the verbose rhetoric of most others, confirms the time has come to outwit evil politicians before they cause more trouble that is serious. To avert the danger, the NDC known for locking arms and never breaking ranks should stop the reckless call to arms. And, the NPP should stop shooting their wounded. Time to think strategically and protect ourselves from unsavoury politicians, and bad leaders in general.

By Kwadwo Afari

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